August 31, 2015

Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen


Title: Mansfield Park

Author: Jane Austen

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Date of Publication: 1814

Number of Pages: 507

Find it at: Book Depository

Summary

Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry's attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary's dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords' influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen's most profound works.

Review

Mansfield Park was the only novel by Jane Austen that I had only read one time. So, when I decided to participate to Austen in August I got the opportunity I was seeking to reread it. Although I liked it the first time I read it, I appreciated it in a totally different way the second. This happened because I didn't consider it as a romance, I didn't expect any and I wanted to become a judge of the characters. And what a world this opened to me!

Fanny Price grows up with her wealthy relations, the Bertrams, in Mansfield Park. She grows up accustomed to different behaviour than her cousins since she is in a totally different position than them. To be honest, she is never allowed to forget it. The way her aunt Norris and her cousins behave to her is unbearable at times, the boys are excluded since Edmund seems to care about her and Tom doesn't really care of anyone. But she neve complains and she is always grateful for all the things that are offered to her. She is almost too good to be real.

Her character becomes more obvious when the Crawfords come into the neighbourhood. All of her cousins become enchanted by them, both of the girls fall in love with Henry, and Edmund falls for Mary. They forget everything that propriety demands. Although Maria is engaged she doesn't even try to show her preference to a man different than her fiance. And in a time that their father is absent. By this point, we learn the Fanny is in love with Edmund and it's so painful to see her observe all of his attentions to Mary Crawford. One of the saddest scenes of the novel is the one that Edmund wants to participate in the play, but he doesn't want to admit it and tries to reason Fanny into urging him to do so.

Edmund for me is unforgivable. He is constantly obsessing over Mary that his judgement is blinded. He sees her faults, but he chooses to ignore them. He understands that she is not the right woman to be a clergyman's wife, but he still nurses the hopes that she will change her mind. His feelings for Fanny are the ones of a brother and this doesn't change in the end, so I can't really understand how he fell in love with her. Besides, they are first cousins!

Henry Crawford is a complex character. He is easygoing and likes to flirt. But he normally knows where to stop. I believe that he genuinely loves Fanny and that he wants to marry her, he's just easy to fall into temptation. This is what ruins his chances in the end.

In Mansfield Park, it's very interesting to see how young wealthy people are behaving. Well-bred girls show no respect to their absent father, firstborns neglect their responsibilities towards an estate that doesn't have the same profit as before, and even aunts the encourage such behaviours. While reading it, you cannot help but think Is Fanny the only reasonable one there?

All in all, Mansfield Park is a very enjoyable novel. Fanny is well-liked and you can only feel bad for all the things she has to endure and all the things she has to remain silent about. There are so many characters here that don't have the acceptable behaviour, but are portrayed so well that it proves the fine writing style of Jane Austen. I would recommend it to anyone, but beware, don't expect any grand romance. You will definitely be disappointed if you expect one.

So, my advice is...

Ride to Mansfield Park!  

8 comments:

  1. I love reading books set in that era, purely just because we really get to see how much has changed in society and our attitudes over time!

    Raashi
    raashiagarwal.blogspot.com.au

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is so true! Jane Austen was one of the first classics' writer I read and she's still one of my favourites :D

      Delete
  2. Amazing review!!
    I have read this novel but so long back that I can't quite remember it. So, I guess I need to re-read it. And I am sure I will love it more than the first time because classics are simply breathtaking . I just adore the writing, it's so beautiful and poetic and descriptions are so vivid. Many a times you come to realize that though many things have now changed in our society but sad to say that there are some baseless morals to which we are still sticking to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many people who have loved Pride and Prejudice don't like this one. Indeed, it feels different and the reread gave me the opportunity to realise and observe so many new things. It's surprising how well can Jane Austen portray all those characters.

      Delete
  3. Awesome review
    Aditi@ Book Stop Corner

    ReplyDelete
  4. Although I liked it the first time I read it, I appreciated it in a totally different way the second. This happened because I didn't consider it as a romance, I didn't expect any and I wanted to become a judge of the characters. And what a world this opened to me!

    That's a good way to approach this book, there's just so much at work in this book and a lot of the other themes are much more well-developed than the actual romance that turns out at the end (again, still scratching my head on this one too). And I love how it's this outsider, this young woman who is family and yet is constantly reminded of how low-born she is, who is the voice of reason (so to speak), the anchor, in this whole cast of characters.

    Great review! =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad that you agree! I know many people, who have read all of Austen's novels and can't just really like Mansfield Park because of the romance. I don't get it as well. But its merits lay elsewhere and what Jane Austen does with the characters is brilliant!

      Delete

Hello, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. I value comments a lot. So if you have anything to say feel free to express yourselves on the comments below! I try to respond to all of your comments and if you leave a link to your blog I will visit it :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...